Paris mayor’s effort to pull pro-family posters backfires
January 6, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Efforts by the socialist mayor of Paris to scrub a pro-family poster campaign from inner city train stations backfired after a judge ruled that the posters were legal and were to remain posted for the duration of the contract.
Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo took issue with the pro-life association Alliance Vita’s series of advertisements announcing that “society will progress provided that maternity… paternity… differences” are respected.
The posters were targeting France’s new bioethics law, currently under discussion, that aim to allow medically assisted procreation “PMA” for lesbian couples and alone-standing women, as well as easier access to experimentation on human embryos.
300 posters had installed on January 2 in the train stations of Paris, and a further 100 in the streets. In the afternoon of that same day, Hidalgo tweeted that she was “deeply shocked and outraged” by the message conveyed by the posters.
Je suis profondément choquée et indignée par cette campagne anti-IVG et anti-PMA à la Gare du Nord et dans plusieurs autres lieux de la capitale. Je demande à @ExterionMediaFR et #Mediatransports que ces affiches soient retirées immédiatement. pic.twitter.com/7dA6p26Q1B— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) January 2, 2020
One poster showed a handicapped woman in a wheelchair, another the profile of a blonde young woman, and the third showed a man’s face.
They were pounced on by various anonymous Twitter accounts and by the mainstream and LGBT media that attacked the posters for being anti-gay and pro-life – one image presented on Alliance Vita’s website but not part of the publicity campaign showed the moment of conception, calling for “respect for life.”
The highly publicized tweet from the mayor denounced an “anti-abortion and anti-PMA campaign at the Gare du Nord and in several other places in the capital.” “I call on @ExterionMediaFR and #Mediatransports to remove these posters immediately,” wrote Hidalgo. Her request was soon to be gratified: hours after the injunction, the advertising agencies announced the withdrawal of the campaign, and their decision was speedily implemented.
Tugdual Derville, Alliance Vita’s general delegate, told LifeSiteNews that he was surprised to see “such a virulent response to posters that express landmarks to which the vast majority of French people are attached: fatherhood, motherhood and respect for differences, such as the ‘difference’ of handicapped people represented by a young girl in a wheelchair” (read full interview below).
“The extravagance of her expression has the merit of revealing the extent to which words that should be as consensual as ‘paternity’ and ‘maternity’ can be banished from society on political grounds. This should make all lovers of democracy and freedom of expression sit back and think,” he added.
Alliance Vita decided to sue both publicity networks using an emergency procedure. Not only was the association successful in obtaining a hearing in the morning of January 4th, the interim relief judge decided that same evening that the publicity campaign should resume in full respect of the contract signed in December by Mediatransports and ExterionMedia with Alliance Vita. He observed that private persons are allowed to express opinions in public advertising campaigns and added that the images and text of posters had been duly assessed and approved by the Advertising Regulatory Authority on December 12.
The social media uproar that led to the pulling of the campaign was deeply revealing of the present thought control system that has invaded the public square in France, upheld by large parts of the political and media worlds. It demonstrated that to speak positively about fatherhood and motherhood in their traditional sense is now socially unacceptable – even if such censorship is shown to be against the law and the rights of private citizens and bodies.
When the interim relief judge’s decision was made public, Anne Hidalgo tweeted: “Very surprised by this emergency decision ordering the continuation of this anti-assisted procreation and anti-abortion campaign. I encourage #Mediatransports to use all existing legal remedies in order to put a final stop to this campaign.”
Très grand étonnement face à cette décision de référé ordonnant la poursuite de la campagne anti-PMA et anti-IVG. J’encourage #Mediatransports à user de toutes les voies de droit possibles pour qu’il soit mis définitivement fin à cette campagne.— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) January 4, 2020
In Hidalgo’s eyes, paternity and maternity must not be presented as a factor of progress, since “progress,” in this LGBTQI era, aims to erase all that – especially at a time when France is debating the bioethics law that is tailored to introduce medically assisted procreation without a father, increased research on the embryo. Inevitably, if the law passes through parliament, it will open the door to surrogate motherhood for male homosexual couples in the name of equality.
Hidalgo’s strong reaction in fact clarified the situation. In addition to the involuntary publicity she has offered to the Alliance Vita campaign, she has summarized the opprobrium that now hangs over the traditional family model.
Pending the outcome of this political-judicial affair that will certainly lead to further litigation, Tugdual Derville, Alliance Vita’s general delegate and the instigator of a new “Movement for human ecology” commented the case for LifeSite.
Below is the LifeSite’s full interview with Tugdual Derville.
LifeSiteNews (LSN): Were you surprised by the reaction – and especially by the force of the reaction – of the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo?
Tugdual Derville (TD): It is, of course, a surprise to see such a virulent response to posters that express landmarks to which the vast majority of French people are attached: fatherhood, motherhood and respect for differences, such as the “difference” of handicapped people represented by a young girl in a wheelchair. We know that it is difficult for everyone to have respect for these supporting walls that are the foundation of human ecology. Our campaign reaches out to people and also challenges their consciences. In particular, it challenges them on bioethical issues, a field in which these three supporting walls are under deep attack. That the ideology of deconstruction should so openly challenge our campaign in fact validates it, and I think that this is a legal, political and moral fault on the part of Anne Hidalgo.
The extravagance of her expression has the merit of revealing the extent to which words that should be as consensual as “paternity” and “maternity” can be banished from society on political grounds. This should make all lovers of democracy and freedom of expression sit back and think.
LSN: Your campaign was very positive, but it was interpreted in a totally negative sense as attacking abortion and medically assisted procreation. But isn’t there some truth in that? By underlining the importance of fatherhood, motherhood and respect for life, can’t it be said that by contrast everyone can understand what you meant?
TD: The three visuals that were posted in this campaign refer explicitly, through our website, to pages that decipher the bioethical law on these three issues. There is a fourth one, by the way, which shows the moment of conception. We did not choose to display it because it is more “technical” and because we have to obey codes of communication that will reach people. By the means of these visuals, which are thought-provoking as such, we invite the French, days before the reopening of the debate on bioethics law, to reflect on the consequences that this law will have on the protection of these supporting walls, when it comes to translating them into bioethics.
We stand behind the fact that behind these statements, which as such encourage us to live in accordance with these three values, there is a denunciation, a warning against the risk of paternity being erased by medically assisted procreation that deliberately evades the father, and the distortion of motherhood by methods of procreation that shatter it, such as surrogate motherhood or the promotion of egg preservation, which sells the idea of late artificial motherhood to women in a totally illusory way, when it is known that only 25% of egg thawing result in pregnancies. All this is clearly expressed on our website.
The posters in favor of “difference” have been kept in the railway network but removed by the Exterionmédia network. We all know that we have a problem in France with this issue of welcoming the disabled. France tells disabled people: “Take your full place in society,” and at the same time it has the world record for prenatal selection. The bioethics law, unfortunately, does nothing, quite the contrary, against this eugenic trend which has raised concern among personalities as diverse as those who participate in the bioethics debate and who are sometimes in opposition to us.
There are indeed issues related to biotechnology behind this campaign: does everything that is possible constitue progress?
I also believe that what may have displeased them about us is that we are assertively reappropriating this notion of progress. Progress is not unconditional; progress is not simply the use of technology to the detriment of humanity. All progress must be humanizing.
LSN: At a time when a law is being debated, you are therefore very clearly being reproached for intervening in the debate in the way you want.
TD: I think that we are simply being criticized for intervening in the debate; more clearly – this is a form of appearance-based prejudice – we are criticized for our mere existence. I think that we are also decried for the tone that we have adopted, a tone that does not judge or condemn, but that forcefully says what is, at the end of the day, the truth. This is significant of the post-truth society, which tends to stifle the affirmation of true realities.
We are aware that even words are now to be banned. And it is no coincidence that we are talking about the words “fatherhood” and “motherhood”: in the eyes of those who want to censor them, they are a source of alienation and discrimination.
However, it seems obvious, and fortunately the court has expressed it in this way, that we are within our rights in publishing these visuals, and I think that the French will judge the case on its merits when they see the visuals that were removed without even engaging in dialogue with us. Everyone can say to themselves, including people who do not share our deepest convictions and who have not refrained from saying so, that things have been turned upside down.
A thought police has indeed expressed itself. It was hidden at first. Those who sneaked on us not only condemned our campaign, deliberately interpreted it in a caricatured way, making it say what it did not say. This thought police is an extremely serious thing. We have seen it at work in some totalitarian countries when politicians use it to put forward what they see as the side of the good against those who should be excluded from the debate, whose voices should be silenced.
We have seen reactions flourishing on social networks from people who say, beyond their own convictions, that they are appalled at the extent to which there is a willingness to censor contradictory voices. They say that all this is revealing a totalitarianism which, put in any hands, can lead to extremely deleterious effects that everyone can recognize.
LSN: You have taken legal action against the advertising networks that interrupted your campaign. The interim relief judge ruled in your favor. Do you have any comments?
TD: We took to court the censorship imposed on us unilaterally by the Médiatransports network, which announced, in response to a question from a journalist who was himself reacting to the “sneak” information on the Internet, that two of the visuals would be removed. I exchanged tweets with the head of the advertising network, objecting both to the form of this announcement – because we are customers who deserve to be respected and to be the first to be informed – and to its substance. Our lawyer, Antoine Beauquier, referred the matter to the summary proceedings judge of the Paris Court of Justice, who granted an adversarial hearing the next morning. On the evening of the hearing, he decided to grant our request, asking for the two censored posters to be posted again on the railway advertising network, under penalty of a fine of 10,000 euros per day. Our opponents were, of course, ordered to pay the costs.
LSN: Do you have any indication as to why the advertising management companies withdrew their posters? Was Anne Hidalgo’s tweet responsible?
TD: Mrs Hidalgo in fact produced two fantastic tweets demanding that the City of Paris be cleaned of the posters that she was caricaturing, since she actually posted a visual on Twitter that was not a poster. She subsequently prompted the two companies to appeal the court decision. But it all started with a few anonymous Twitter accounts, which says a lot about how far a tattletale system can go, especially since we don't know which group or person is behind this type of account, which makes it impossible to challenge them openly. Our faces are out in the open, and while the faces of those who attack us are covered.
So I don't know exactly how they decided to remove this campaign in violation of the contract that bound us, and against the law. They argued that the advertisements were not neutral, but we were able to show that they had often accepted to show advertisements that were sometimes consumerist, sometimes libidinous, and in any case without neutrality.
As proof of this, we argued that the animal-rights PETA association, in exactly the same network and under the same conditions, showed a pig and a calf with the caption: “I'm someone, don't eat me!” There is nothing neutral about that. Advertising displays in general would be insipid, if they were “absolutely neutral.”
LSN: How many posters were placed in Paris and in which areas?
TD: The first network, Mediatransports, placed 300 posters in railway stations, and the second network displayed one hundred posters in the streets of Paris.
LSN: Was there a reaction from those who saw them?
TD: Anyone who looks at these posters can identify with a person in a wheelchair with a disability, or by the faces of a father and mother, or feel challenged. But there has been no other negative reaction apart from the orchestration of a small group that trying to gag us.
LSN: And has the announced appeal actually taken place?
TD: At this time I have no indication that the announcement of an appeal made by Mediatransports via Twitter will be followed up. For our part at any rate, we reserve our right and possibility to go all the way to the competent courts to challenge the discrimination and also the defamation that we are suffering from on the part of various protagonists in this affair.